Microsoft Dynamics 365 is now much more than an ERP or a CRM system, it is a business platform to build on. It integrates your systems and departments, giving you the data and the capability to optimise your entire organisation.

Historically this wasn’t the case, you bought different systems that needed heavily customised to meet your needs, with most organisations effectively building their own version using the ERP as a base. The systems didn’t talk to each other particularly well and this left you with silos of data and no clear picture of your whole organisation.

With Dynamics 365, Microsoft has made this much easier. It is Microsoft’s most configurable solution yet and you should get most of the functionality you are looking for out of the box. This has some profound benefits and can greatly reduce the time required to implement a new system and the ongoing cost of maintaining it.

Microsoft has recently shared their vision of how customers will get the most out of Dynamics 365.  The approach is layer based. where you get as much functionality as you can out of each layer before moving to the next one, as each layer comes with added cost and complexity.


Over the years Microsoft has added a huge level of configuration that allows the system to respond to most organissational needs.

They have also added a number of visual based features that allow you to track processes and set step by step guides to define and follow these processes.  Not only does this make it easy to understand and automate these processes, but brings an element of training and control.

The great thing with Dynamics is that these are all visual based and don’t have the need for developers.  Microsoft reckons this should get most businesses 80-90% of the functionality they need right out of the box.

3rd party solutions

Your first stop when looking for more functionality is the Dynamics app store, Appsource. Chances are someone else will have had the same requirement you do and they might have made it available publicly. Most of these apps will come with a charge but they will integrate with Dynamics and many will come with expert help and support. We even have 4 of our own custom modules for engineering and manufacturing available for Dynamics. 


The next stage after 3rd party solutions is PowerApps.  PowerApps is a system for creating custom applications and processes, using your data from systems like Dynamics 365 and allowing you to visually create applications without using code and publish them to web and mobile. PowerApps are great when it comes to repeatable business processes. For example if someone on your shop floor currently does stock taking using a printed out list, you could create a PowerApp that pulls in the stock (including a photo) and provide an interface for them to see it, update the number of items digitally and have this accessible right on their mobile.


Extensions replace the traditional approach to customisations, where you would have had a developer or IT company build you a custom application that works with Dynamics, in many cases going into Dynamics itself and changing the code and the way it works. This is the most complex layer, as the sky is the limit when it comes to what these custom applications can do. With customisations, you had the responsibility to keep them update, as any change to Dynamics would mean that you lost the ability to update it via Microsoft without losing your customisation.  However, as extensions do not modify the underlying code and instead plug-into it in predefined entry points, they do not suffer from the same problems with upgrades.

Common Data Service

Another  part of Dynamics 365 that sits across all of this is the Common Data Service.  This keeps data between the different Dynamics 365 applications synchronised, and enabled several important scenarios.  Different Dynamics 365 applications (such as Sales vs. Finance and Operations) will seamlessly share data.  Dynamics 365 applications can work seamlessly with non-Microsoft business solutions using off-the-shelf or custom connectors for the Common Data Service.  This has allowed Microsoft to start breaking down Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations into component applications (initially Talent and Retail) so that customers can chose to take pieces of Dynamics 365 to use in conjunction with their existing business applications rather than being forced into a complete systems replacement.

Microsoft’s vision is to have most functionality available out of the box and overtime the marketplace should be sufficient to provide most additional business needs. This means it is cheaper to implement and will provide you with a much smoother process.